We’re in the midst of one of the harshest flu seasons we’ve ever had. As a former client recently said, “We have officially reached that point in cold/flu season that feels like a zombie/outbreak movie. You hear a cough or sneeze in public and everything stops and that Vertigo camera effect kicks in because you all just know that innocent little cough means the zombie sickness is HERE in our MIDST.”
So, what happens when you find yourself overcome with the sniffles; or worse yet, the flu? (Because, as we know, babies don’t often recognize your request sick days off. #Rude)
We’ve got some tips to surviving sickness while also being responsible for a little one at home:
Most importantly, have good hygiene and contain the spread of germs.
Wash your hands, like, a lot. Go back to your elementary school days and wash using hot water, soapy soap, and do it for as long as it takes you to sing Happy Birthday, twice. Grab a small trash can or grocery sack, and put all your used tissues into them (instead of tossing them dramatically around the bed, as you may feel inclined to do!). Try to stay in one part of your home (preferably your bedroom and in your bed). Wipe down any hard surfaces in shared spaces with a germicidal wipe (toilet handles, sinks, light switches, door knobs, etc.). Flu germs can survive 24 hours on hard surfaces, and about 15 minutes on soft surfaces.
Ask for and accept help.
Babies, man. They frequently deliver a less in humility, don't they? This is the time to call in the troops. If you have older children who also need to be cared for, or transported to school or daycare, ask your friends to help you. And, ask them to bring you meal or drop by tissues or medicine. Yes, they can leave it on your front porch, and slowly back away; but it’ll save you trip to the store.
Is the rest of your family down for the count, too, and unable to deliver items to you? Good News: We live in the future.
Rest. No, really. Truly rest. And, let go of your expectations.
We aren’t joking on this one. Please allow yourself the time and space to truly rest. If someone else can care for your baby, allow that to happen. If that’s not possible, then give yourself the grace and permission to lay about your house like a sloth. Lower your expectations of what’s going to get done during the time you’re sick, and if that means your kiddos watch 5 hours of Wild Kratts, then so be it.
What about feeding your baby?
The CDC recommends that you pump, and give expressed milk via a bottle while the nursing parent is sick with the flu. If your baby won’t accept a bottle, you can offer a cup, syringe or other alternative feeding method, or then wash your hands well (see point 1) and consider wearing a mask and disposable gloves while you nurse. Ask your baby’s caregiver to be sure they wash your little one’s hands immediately after you’ve been in contact with them.
Put priority on your own health right now.
When our little ones have a sniffle, we’re right there with the tissues and medicine, always on time and always on top of the situation. Sadly, though, parents are really terrible at taking care of ourselves when we’re under the weather. Set alarms on your phone so that you’ll remember to take medicine as needed. Ask your partner to move things within your reach so you can limit your energy expense attempting to get more tissues or cups of tea.
And yes, you DO get to control the TV channels right now. So, settle in for a marathon of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, and we hope you feel better so very soon.